Despite the many travels that characterized much of my childhood, I had never been on a trip quite like that of my first visit to South Africa. To me Africa existed through my father's journals, letters exchanged between my grandparents, an array of photographs and wonderful stories of what it was like having Africa as a home. However now for the first time, I was actually arriving at the small town on the eastern coast of South Africa where four generations of my paternal side had grown up. Driving through the town of Estcourt for the first time seemed somewhat like a dream. As we passed the small stone church where my grandparents were married, a small black- and-white picture rushed to my mind. The beautiful stained windows over my grandparents' heads were somehow familiar. Jacaranda trees stood proudly between houses and along sidewalks with little blue flowers seated delicately on the top of most branches, so fragile due to the heat that when a warm breeze ruffled the branches, the flowers would float slowly to the pavement.
In 2001 Atwan and Joyce Carol Oates took on the daunting task of tracing that ever-shifting process through the previous 100 years for The Best American Essays of the Century . Recently Atwan returned with a more focused selection for Publishers Weekly : "The Top 10 Essays Since 1950." To pare it all down to such a small number, Atwan decided to reserve the "New Journalism" category, with its many memorable works by Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr and others, for some future list. He also made a point of selecting the best essays , as opposed to examples from the best essayists. "A list of the top ten essayists since 1950 would feature some different writers."
Terez Mertes (who also publishes as Terez Rose) danced once upon a time, but is now a blogger and writer whose stories and essays have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Literary Mama, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and San Jose Mercury News. Anthology credits include Women Who Eat (Seal Press, November 2003), A Woman’s Europe (Travelers’ Tales, June 2004) and Italy, a Love Story (Seal Press, June 2005). She blogs as The Classical Girl at and you can check out more of her work at .